tv Dateline NBC NBC September 9, 2016 9:00pm-11:00pm EDT
she was gone. >> the world saw her one way. >> waving at the crowds, sming. >> family and friends another. >> i knew jonbenet as a tomboy. she had a great sense of humor. >> investigators found jonbenet ramsey like this. >> there was black duct tape covering her mouth. >> murdered in her own home. who could have done this? >> it was a gruesome crime.
of "dateline," josh mankiewicz uncovers what we never knew about the murder of jonbenet ramsey. some of those closest to the investigation speaking out for the very first time. this detective. >> it took everything i had to keep that secret. >> and this 911 separator. >> something outside me said something's not right. >> why some suspected jonbenet's parents. >> that's a big red flag. >> and otherdn >> the behavior does not match up with the ramseys. it matches up with the psychopath. >> a new interview with jonbenet's brother, burke. >> did police come closer to making an arrest than we ever knew? >> i learned from one source there had actually been an indictment. >> now after 20 years, what can finally be revealed. >> i have something to say.
>> i'm lester holt and this is "dateline." tonight, who killed jonbenet? >> how long ago was this? >> i don't know. i just found the note. and my daughter's missing. oh, my god. >> okay. >> this story is about that little girl named jonbenet ramsey. a story illustrated with the images that became fixtures on
around the world. >> my name is jonbenet ramsey. >> a nearly 20-year-old mystery that haunted a family and a community, one that created deep divisions among friends as well as among investigators who are still searching for the truth. tonight, new information. a family friend who was by the ramsey's side throughout it all will speak out. her first primetime interview. >> i've never seen anything like the emotions were so intense. >> the 911 operator who took that call will speak publicly for the first time about what she heard. >> it was almost a surreal moment for me, and i had this sickening feeling in my stomach. >> you'll see crucial case documents that have never before been made public and for the first time, you'll hear two investigators talk about what happened inside the investigation. >> you've never given an interview before. >> correct.
what do you want people to know? >> to basically address this myth perception of my department that has been going on for 20 years. >> boulder, colorado, a university town in the foothills of the rocky mountains. moving here was a big change for the ramsey family who arrived from atlanta in 1991. >> i told patsy to get a pair of >> judith phillips was a friend of the ramseys. >> atlanta, you didn't leave the house without makeup, even if you were going to work out. boulder wasn't that way at all. it was just the opposite, you know, laid back, a hippie town. >> john ramsey became president and ceo of access graphics, a computer company he helped create. their offices in boulder.
and unpacked some southern charm. >> it was exwiz sit what patsy did with that house. and she turns, really, the city upside down with her style. >> i'm from west virginia. >> in her youth, patsy ramsey had been miss west virginia and went on to compete in the miss america pageant. >> she put her house up for some kind of tour for christmas. she put her pageant dress on the bed so people could see it. >> this was patsy announcing i have arrived. >> right. >> everything came to a sudden halt two years later when patsy ramsey was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. >> she looked weak. she looked tired, but she had a smile on her face. >> tough to watch your friend going through that.
it's really hard. >> but mrs. ramsey was a fighter. >> she was going to beat this and she was going to beat it forever. >> and the cancer did go into remission. everyone took a deep breath. judith, who is a photographer, was asked to take photos of her friend for a magazine feature about patsy's recovery. judith came up with an unusual pose, a cross between patsy's lips. >> that cross was very significant to her because she believed that this cross healed her. >> judith also shot photos of patsy ramsey with her children, burke and jonbenet who were, according to friends, the center of their mom's universe and maybe why she fought so hard to survive.
see both burke and jonbenet graduate from college. >> you have no doubt seen spoiled rich kids. >> i have. >> the ramsey children didn't qualify? >> no. no, the rich spoiled kids i have seen that are bratty, didn't want to be around them. these kids were refreshing. normal, normal kids. >> and pam got to know the ramseys well, especially mrs. ramsey. >> she was gregarious, bubbly. >> and her daughter seemed to be following in those footsteps. jonbenet was named after her dad, john bennett ramsey, with a french twist. by time she turned 6, jonbenet won the title of little miss christmas and participated in boulder's annual christmas parade.
her coat because -- >> beauty queens don't do that. >> that's what she said? >> uh-huh. >> 1996 was ending in a high note for the ramseys. patsy ramsey, still in remission, had just celebrated her 40th birthday. john bennett's company was a huge success. burke and jonbenet were having yet another magical christmas, but the morning after christmas, december 26th, 1996, the ramsey's lives changed forever. >> do you know how long she's been gone? >> no, i don't. we just got up and she's not here. please. >> take a deep breath. >> please hurry, hurry, hurry. >> patsy, patsy, patsy? >> when we come back, the
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take them to their vacation home in michigan. pam, a pilot's wife and patsy's friend, was home when the phone rang. >> it was john ramsey. where's michael? i said he's out getting the plane ready. they've got her. they've got her. what do you mean they've got her? what do you mean? he said they've got jonbenet, she's kidnapped. >> jonbenet ramsey, only 6 years old, was missing. her mother called 911 and said she found a note inside th >> there was a note left. >> that note would become perhaps the most carefully dissected ransom note in the history of crime. mr. ramsey, listen carefully! we are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. at this time, we have your daughter in our possession. the note demanded money, a very specific sum.
$100,000 will be in 100 dollar bills and the remaining $18,000 in 20 dollar bills. make sure you bring an adequate size attache to the bank. i will call you between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. the note went on for two and a half pages. within minutes, a boulder police officer arrived at the ramsey house. according to documents, the ramseys told the officer they had dinner at a friend's house the night before and then returned home at 10:00 p.m. and both kids went to bed shortly after. mrs. ramsey said she woke up early next morning to get ready, went to jonbenet's room and found it empty, then she found the note. the ramseys said their 9-year-old son burke was still asleep in his room. the officer did a quick inspection of the house and wrote that he found no signs of a forced entry or struggle.
noted a door with a wooden latch, but did not open it. soon detectives arrived. fred patterson was among the first. >> we're trying to stay very low key because the note itself said they were watching the house. >> patterson met with the ramseys. >> they're very distraught. they want to get their daughter back. >> john ramsey was busy getting together $118,000 in ransom money. >> he seemed t n in control. >> the house was crowded. two victims' advocates had arrived. in addition, mrs. ramsey had called some close friends and her pastor. burke ramsey was by now awake and had been taken to a family friend's home away from the scene. police were working without a playbook. that kind of kidnapping exists in the movies, but in real life it's pretty rare.
sergeant at boulder pd. >> i knew that we didn't have the personnel to handle that. >> so he called the fbi. ron walker, an agent in the fbi, drove to the boulder police department. >> and there was a photograph of the kidnapped victim, jonbenet ramsey. >> he looked at the picture and was puzzled. >> i had been told that this little girl was about 5 or 6 years old. i thought to myself that can't be. the girl that's depicted in this particular photograph looks like she's 13, 14 years old. someone told me that's one of her beauty pageantry publicity shots. >> walker thought that was a possible lead. >> well, gosh, who had access to her potentially at one of these pageants? maybe had become fixated on her, stalked her. >> but then walker read the
if the kidnapping of jonbenet is motivated by her exposure in beauty pageants, there's like nothing in there to suggest that. >> exactly. >> there's no reference to how beautiful she is or i've been watching her or i can't take my eyes off of her. i've seen her performing. >> right. >> all of which made this fbi agent very suspicious. >> so the first thought is it's not a kidnapping. >> this is not the real thing. >> this is not the real thing. boulder police chief at the time and i said, this is a murder. you're going to find a body. >> never theless, boulder pd prepped john ramsey for the kidnapper's promised phone call, but 10:00 a.m. came and went with no call from the kidnappers. according to police reports, no one in the house made any obvious comment that the deadline had been missed. naturally, police had to look at john and patsy ramsey. they were after all inside the
so detective patterson asked for unrehearsed handwriting samples to compare john and patsy's writing to the ransom note. >> all we were trying to do was obtain handwriting from them so we could basically eliminate them and go on with the investigation. >> john ramsey quickly responded. >> they had two standard sized pads of paper. he said this one is patsy's. this one is mine. we use it to keep notes by the telephone. >> patterson and whittson took the note pads back to the station for the notes to be analyzed leaving one detective in charge. she needed help keeping john ramsey's mind occupied. she suggested to a family friend that he and mr. ramsey search the house from top to bottom. john ramsey immediately went to the basement.
>> to me, that's a red flag. big red flag. >> almost as if he knew exactly where to go. >> almost as if he knew exactly where to go. >> mr. ramsey said he noticed an open window in the basement. he then walked toward a small room the family called the wine cellar. he opened the door and that's when he said he saw something. >> coming up, finding jonbenet. >> she was wrapped in a blanket. there was black duct tape >> a crime scene about to spin out of control. >> it was absolute chaos. >> when "dateline" continues. with intuitive all-wheel drive. the nissan rogue, murano and pathfinder.
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about seven hours after patsy ramsey called 911 to code black, meaning dead body found. >> he said i'm going to the house. let's go. >> by now, john ramsey had picked up jonbenet's body and carried it upstairs. detective sergeant bob whitson. >> i walked in. mrs. ramsey was rocking back and forth just crying profusely.
the floor holding her daughter. >> i asked the minister to ask her to put the body down, which she did. >> what had looked like a kidnapping for ransom had turned into a murder. it was now a case for the local police, not the fbi. >> and i told them it's no longer our jurisdiction. you've got a contaminated crime scene. you've got to get these people out of the house. >> it was absolute chaos. >> a detective with the boulder pd back then was on a holi soon became one of the main investigators of jonbenet's murder. this is her first ever television interview. >> you had the crime scene techs, you know, dusting for fingerprints and these family friends following behind the techs with spray cleaner like cleaning up after them. i mean, it was an impossible situation. >> it sounds like you needed more poor there.
jonbenet's body to be brought out. >> charlie brennan, a local newspaper reporter from boulder, was one of the first on scene. >> it was a really i would say macabre scene with the large candy canes that flanked the front walk. >> he soon learned the details on how john ramsey said he found his daughter's body on the cellaror >> jonbenet was lying on her back. she was wrapped in a blanket. her favorite barbie nightgown was just nearby. her hands were up over her head and there was a ligature secured to both wrists loosely. and there was the garrote around her neck and there was black duct tape covering her mouth. >> and on the palm of her left hand a heart drawn in red ink.
tape off and threw it aside and then he picked up her body and he carried her body upstairs. >> that's pretty much everything that police don't want to happen in that situation. >> the girl's father picking up the body and moving it to another room, another floor, of the house is -- you could not have worse contamination of a crime scene right there. >> news of jonbenet's death was spreading fast. >> a tragic and mysterious the body of 6-year-old jonbenet ramsey was found in the basement of the family home. >> the boulder pd held a press conference. >> there is no information that lead us toward any suspect or identifiable suspect at this time. >> but behind the scenes, detectives were already complying a list of possible suspects, and on it was the ramsey family housekeeper. patsy ramsey said she had access to the home and had recently
detective patterson interviewed the housekeeper and her husband. their alibis checked out. >> they appeared to be very open with us, supplying us with anything that we asked for. >> including handwriting samples to compare with the ransom note. that was the biggest clue the killer left behind. >> the ransom note really suggests strongly somebody who had familiarity with the ramseys. it makes the amount of the ransom that was sought $118,000, which we learned was very close, down to a few bucks, to the amount that john ramsey had received as his bonus that year at access graphics. >> anybody any that was a coincidence? because that's a hell of a coincidence. >> most investigators believe it was somebody who knew about the bonus. >> ex-employees of access
then police found out about another possible lead. >> it came to light that jonbenet had mentioned to the mother of a friend right around this time that santa is going to pay me a special visit. >> a special visit after christmas. the family friend thought for sure jonbenet must have been confused, but it turned out jonbenet knew a santa who was a reer >> coming up, that real person was about to show up at jonbenet's memorial and say something strange. >> it left people feeling very uncomfortable about this guy. >> do investigators have a
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murdered in her own home. family friend pam bardet. >> that is a time that i will never forget in my life. it's seared into my being and it is something i wish it would go away. >> detectives were still looking at the ramseys too. shortly after john ramsey found his daughter, police say they overheard a cosa >> another detective saw him on the phone apparently talking to his pilot, telling the pilot to get the plane ready. we're getting out of here. >> fbi agent ron walker. >> he was told at that point by a detective, well, you're not going anywhere. >> the ramseys stayed and later moved in with friends while police took over the house. they tried to make up for the mistakes they made the first day.
we processed that scene until we could not do anything more on it. >> reporter: the following day, detectives wanted to question the ramseys more thoroughly. according to police documents, patsy ramsey's doctor said she was too distraught and too medicated to talk to anyone. john ramsey did talk accompanied by a friend who was also an attorney. detectives asked mr. ramsey about a broken window they'd found in the basement. john ramsey said himself months earlier when he was locked out of the house. detectives left without getting a commitment to speak with the ramseys again. that same day the coroner performed the autopsy. among all the intrigue and the tabloid details and the worldwide publicity, at bottom this was a young child who died a really horrible death. >> the death was horrible.
blow to the head that fractured her skull and caused bleeding on her brain. weapon unknown. she'd also been strangled with a loop of cord tied to a broken paint brush handle, a homemade weapon known as a garrote. there was also evidence of possible sexual abuse and there were two strange marks on her lower back and another on her cheek. something else detectives would consider a significant piece of evidence. >> the autopsy on jonbenet ramsey indicated that there was a partially digested pineapple. >> on december 28th, john and patsy ramsey met with police and gave hair and blood samples as well as fingerprints. according to a police report, patsy asked a question. will this help find who killed my baby? and the same report says she
if the ramseys felt they were under suspicion, the boulder pd felt the ramseys were not fully cooperating. >> the police were very frank about their inability to get questions answered by the ramseys. >> and that's a time when they need that sort of the most. >> it's the old saw that the first 48 hours of any homicide case are absolutely critical to that case being solved. et interview jonbenet's older brother burke. burke told patterson he learned his sister was missing when he awakened that morning. >> he came across to me as being very open and honest. >> the following sunday, the ramsey family held a private memorial service. >> john was very grateful, hugged both of us for coming, and he was together fairly well.
black dress, black veil, and could barely function. she was so grief stricken. >> the ramseys had endured a tremendous amount of trauma in the last five years. in addition to patsy ramsey's cancer battle, john ramsey's daughter from a first marriage had been killed in a car accident. >> during this service, patsy stood up, raised both of her hands straight up, turned didn't look at anybody. not us, not anybody. just straight ahead. and i thought to me it looked like she was giving jonbenet to god. >> jonbenet's family spoke at the service and so did a man named bill mcreynolds who played santa claus at the ramsey family christmas party. remember jonbenet told a family friend that santa planned to pay her a special visit the day
now here was santa speaking at her memorial service. >> i think that was likely a well intentioned heartfelt reminisce about the girl. apparently went on at some length, and in the eyes of people who were there it got weird and left a number of people feeling very uncomfortable about this guy. >> that evening the ramseys flew to atlanta for jonbenet's funeral. they'd buried her nexthe older half sister, beth. back in boulder, detectives questioned the ramseys santa claus, bill mcreynolds. >> he had had heart surgery in august just a handful of months before the crime. >> making it hard for detectives to believe that mcreynolds, then in his late 60s, had the strength to break into the
jonbenet. who did it? the detective said boulder police cast a wide net. >> we looked at access graphics. we looked at domestic employees. we looked at pageants she had participated in and registered sex offenders. >> and detectives wanted to speak again at length with john and patsy ramsey. who doesn't want to sit down with police and find out who killed their child? >> yeah. you would think that a parent whose children had been harmed in some fashion or murdered -- i would be demanding to meet with the police. >> the ramseys did not demand to meet with police. instead police were told they could submit written questions to the ramsey's attorney. that raised eyebrows at the boulder pd, but it was nothing compared to what the ramseys did next.
this side of jonbenet's life. >> those pageants are a magnet for pedophiles. >> yep. >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues. at scoot the ice over and try to sip it very slowly so that it wouldn't trigger the pain. that's when i realized i had to do something. my dentist recommended that i use sensodyne. i think that sensodyne has been great in terms of reducing the sensitivity and pain that i was experiencing. now i can put ice in my water. sensodyne absolutely works,
for the safety of all the children, we have to find out who did this. >> new year's day 1997, six da the ramseys were sitting down to talk with cnn. >> we wanted to get our daughter buried and we have done that. now we're ready to get on with this. >> john and patsy ramsey said an intruder had to have killed their daughter, and they wanted that person caught, which to them meant hiring their own investigators.
country has to offer to help us resolve this. this doesn't come from anger. it comes from knowing that the only way that my family could move on now is to resolve why, who, this happened. >> do you truly think the perpetrator will be found? >> yes. yes. has to be found. >> i looked at the television minute. those are my clients. why are they on television? >> pat worked in the news business. then in public relations. the ramseys had already hired attorneys to deal with police, and the attorneys in turn hired pat to deal with the media, but he says he was not yet in the loop when john and patsy ramsey broke their silence on cnn. i'm guessing if they had checked
don't do that. >> don't even think about it. >> in the audience of course were boulder police detectives. it had to be the very least unusual in covering a murder in which the parents of the victim were not talking to police investigators, but they would talk to cnn. >> yes. >> what did they make you think? >> it was frustrating. >> how damaging do you think was the image created by that early interview that the ramseys will talk to cnut to the police? >> well, certainly in the police department they felt that way. you could talk to cnn. you could talk to us, but the circumstances are completely different. >> different because the ramseys felt the boulder police were focusing only on them. >> if you're their lawyer, your job is to make sure they are as secure from being held to account in a legal sense as
>> which means don't talk to the police? >> right. and meanwhile all this other kind of cooperation was going on. >> the ramseys, says pat, were providing boulder detectives with names of possible suspects and leads. >> we were feeding the information as fast as we got it to the police department, and they were not interested. >> detectives would disagree. that ever happen? >> not that i can reca >> every true they attempted to pass information along and they were told we're not interested? >> that would not happen. we would follow up. >> as they did with ex-employees. and you checked those people out? >> yes, we did. >> thoroughly? >> yes. >> talking with them face to face? >> yes. >> and getting dna samples and handwriting samples?
>> and all of that led nowhere? >> yes. >> those pageants are a magnet for pedophiles. >> yes. >> as the holiday season ended and the new year dawned, those pageant pictures and videos of jonbenet started to attract more and more attention. so did that cnn interview and patsy's warning to parents. >> there is a killer on the loose. i don't know who it is. i don't know if it is a he or a she. but if i were a resident of boulder, i would tell my friends to keep -- keep your babies close to you.
attorney alex hunter addressed the killer at a press conference. >> the list of suspects narrows. soon there will be no one on the list but you. everyone in america is watching. >> he wasn't wrong. america was watching and so was the rest of the world. >> what makes this murder mystery so chilling is the victim. >> a year earlier, the o.j. simpson case had established criminal law as popular entertainment. >> as the satellite trucks started rolling into town, we realized this was not going to be just a one night engagement, but a long running show. >> we had cameras following us. we had to get special phones so people couldn't listen to our conversations. it was just incredible.
and warp the case in many ways. some were shocking like when two men stole crime scene photos and sold them to a tabloid newspaper. others were entirely predictable, like what happened when cops frustrated by what they saw as the parents' lack of cooperation -- >> i have already given our response. >> -- encountered eager reporters who were hungry for the next big scoop. >> i better not comment. >> there was a fair amount of leaking, as i reer >> like a sieve. >> coming up, john and patsy ramsey have presented a united front to the world, but what's going on behind closed doors? >> the ramseys barely even spoke
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>> multiple times. >> and each time they would say or their attorneys would say -- >> write the questions down and they'll respond to written questions. >> but no face-to-face interview? >> yes. >> privately, it was another story. >> there was a lot of leaking, and there was a lot of places to go to find out more about what was happening behind the scenes. >> details leaked about the placement of jonbenet's body and at killer. >> the fact that jonbenet was found wrapped in a blanket and her favorite barbie nightgown was nearby suggested to investigators the actions of somebody who had some level of emotional investment or a caring about the victim. >> details of the physical evidence leaked also. >> forensic investigation of the duct tape revealed a number of fibers that were found to be
patsy was wearing the morning that the police came to the house. >> those were the same clothes she'd worn the night before. some friends noticed. >> the kind of clothes horse that patsy was it would be hard for me to believe that she would wear the same outfit in two days. >> that made detectives wonder if patsy ramsey even went to bed the night jonbenet was killed. it also came out that jonbenet three months before her death. detectives wondered if that might be a sign of trauma or a reason for a family member to get angry. then there was the murder weapon. >> the stick used for the garrote was the midsection of a broken paint brush that came from paint supplies that patsy ramsey used. >> police also found a flashlight on the kitchen
large and heavy enough to have caused jonbenet's skull fracture. >> the ramseys said it was not their flashlight, and nobody else has claimed ownership of it. >> reporters like charlie brennan soon realized the ramseys weren't paranoid. police really did suspect them of killing their daughter. for fbi agent ron walker, it started as a simple matter of arithmetic. >> 71% were murdered by their parents or a family member. >> beyond the statistics, there were things about john and patsy ramsey that struck investigators as odd. >> when i get to the house, i'm told by the detective that was there that morning that the ramseys barely even acknowledged each other or spoke to each other. >> and then patsy ramsey's demeanor after the body was found.
at me through the fingers of one of her hands like she was watching me. now all the other emotive stuff that i saw from her i thought was genuine. i didn't see any crocodile tears. i don't think that she was acting. she was truly emotionally distraught that morning. >> later that year the autopsy report was released, including evidence of possible sexual sa experts who reviewed the autopsy couldn't agree on whether it indicated a one-time event at the time of jonbenet's murder or a history of sexual abuse. either way that was a major factor in the case. and there was one more thing. remember the coroner's finding of what appeared to be pineapple in jonbenet's digestive system? pineapple was not served at the party the ramseys attended the
told police they put jonbenet straight to bed the night they got home. but a bowl of pineapple was found on the kitchen table. suggesting there's part of the story the ramseys aren't telling. >> police certainly believe the ramseys have not told them everything in this case. >> to the ramsey's team it seemed as if police were cherry picking bits and pieces of conclusion they'd leaped to at the beginning. >> it was obvious to us they were putting all their eggs in that basket, that they were not inclined to look seriously at someone else because in the majority of cases like these it is the family. >> true? >> definitely not true. we went where the evidence took us. we did not develop a theory and
>> winter turned to spring. the ramseys and the police still could not come to terms on formal interviews. some friends felt forced to choose sides, but pam barden never questioned the ramseys innocence. >> i knew them. i knew them and i knew how they treated their children. they were not abusive. they did not have tempers that would flare out. >> but the leaks kept coming and rumors kt some persist to this day, like the one about a mysterious voice on the 911 call. you're about to hear from someone who may know the truth about that. someone who has never spoken publicly until now. >> she just hung up on me or so she thought. >> coming up, what the 911 operator didn't expect to hear. why her story would jolt the investigation.
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my daughter's missing. i'm the mother. oh, my god, please. >> the mystery of jonbenet ramsey's murder began with her mother's call to 911. the panic and grief in her voice seemed undeniable, but as the investigation unfolded -- >> take a deep breath. patsy? patsy? patsy? >> reports surfaced there was more to that call than first met the ear. >> it was the hardest call that i ever took and i think it was because there was something inside me that said something's not right. >> kimberly was the 911 operator who answered patsy ramsey's call on december 26th, 1996. >> she continued screaming like she was very hysterical. >> she said she wanted to reassure mrs. ramsey that
she never got the chance. >> without me giving her any kind of closure or any reassurance, she hangs up the phone or it sounds like she goes to hang up the phone. you called hear the phone go to the cradle, and it didn't hang up. >> patsy? patsy? >> kimberly says after that she could still hear patsy ramsey talking, but not to her. >> theas knew that for sure. then there was another voice. there were three different voices. the third one was a little bit more faint, but i knew there was a third distinct different voice. >> a third voice. the only people known to be in the home at that time were the ramseys and their then 9-year-old son burke. the ramseys always maintained
police arrived. >> if burke's voice is there on the recording, that's a huge problem because it completely flies in the face of the accounts given by john and patsy ramsey. >> but was it burke's voice? detectives sent the tape to two experts to play the audio. >> i've listened to it. >> bob grant, a former district attorney who consulted on the enhanced tape is far from clear. >> some say it's burke. some say i don't know. some say it may not even be a voice. it's a piece of evidence that has a number of different conclusions. >> like many pieces of evidence in this case. none more so than the ransom note. that's a pretty weird note. >> yes. >> fbi agent ron walker read the note that first day, and to him,
attempt to mislead investigators. >> the word possession was misspelled and the word business was misspelled. >> possible it was done deliberately? >> that was my thought. sometimes when you have a staged crime scene, the author will attempt to hide or disguise their level of education and intellect. >> to agent walker and others, it seemed the author was in fact well educated. for example, bring an adequa size attache to the bank. >> attache indicates to me someone who was educated. >> then there was the ransom amount of $118,000, almost the exact amount of john ramsey's christmas bonus and a low number for someone trying to shake down a millionaire. >> john ramsey could have probably come up with a million
the note were preposterous. >> don't try to grow a brain, john. >> that line could have come from the 1994 blockbuster "speed." >> do not attempt to grow a brain. >> and there was this line in the note. >> if we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies. if you alert bank authorities, they die. >> very similar to line in the movie "dirty harry." >> what i'm seeing here is hollywood. i'm seeing movies like "ransom." >> a movie about a rich man whose child was kidnapped was playing in theaters at the time. >> one more odd thing about the note. signature, victory s.b.c.t. nobody could figure out what those initials stood for. document examiners did determine
the pads john ramsey gave police on day one. the pen, too, came from inside the ramsey home. >> the notion that a kidnapper would go into a house unknown to him and sit down and write an almost three-page kidnap note -- >> while you're committing the crime -- >> and they're asleep in the same house makes no sense at all. >> boulder detectives were determined to find out who wrote the note. the ramseys had both supplied dateline obtained police documents showing multiple experts analyzed them and excluded john ramsey as the author. as to patsy ramsey, there was a range of opinion. one examiner found no evidence to indicate she wrote the note. another said his examination failed to provide a basis for identifying her as the author. the third said he was unable to identify her as the author, but
a fourth found indications she wrote the ransom note, but the evidence falls short of that necessary to support a definite conclusion. >> doesn't say a damn thing and in fact shouldn't because handwriting is not hard science. >> in april 1997, john and patsy ramsey came in for those formal interviews detectives wanted so badly. it was four months after the murder. transcripts showed direct questions an patsy, did you write the note? no i did not write the note. did you participate in any way in the death or the events of the death of jonbenet? no, absolutely not. the next day mr. and mrs. ramsey held a news conference. >> to those of you who may want to ask, let directly i did not kill jonbenet.
with it. i loved that child with the whole of my heart and soul. >> there have always been innuendos that she has been or was sexually molested. i can tell you those were the most hurtful innuendos to us as a family. they are totally false. >> the ramseys never wavered, an intruder, they said, killed their daughter. the boulder police still didn't believe them, but someone who did was about to change the entire investigation. >> coming up, a fresh look at the crime scene produces a whole new picture of jonbenet's killer. >> people say nobody in their normal mind would do that. keep in mind, you're not dealing
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pressure that magnified every mistake, and to those issues add another. what i'm about to say is going to sound kind of familiar, particularly if you watch a lot of television, but bear with me. in the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. now, what happens when those two groups can't agree? what h even get along? there was some significant tension between the da's office and the police department back then. now, that frequently exists in every jurisdiction. this seems to have been worse. >> yes, it was. they had kind of put themselves into this role of being our adversaries, not our advisers.
the early 1970s. >> the district attorney's office under alex hunter had a reputation for favoring plea bargains. they did not like trials. and the police viewed the da's office as having basically an anti-cop and anti-prosecutorial mind-set. >> tension only increased when hunter's office began its own parallel investigation. one of the men to join that team from colorado springs. his name lou smit. >> he was an investigator for 40 years. he had worked 200 homicides with a 90% clearance rate. >> bob whitson, remember, was the boulder pd's on call detective supervisor the day jonbenet was murdered.
>> lou smit spent a lot of time with the ramseys, got to know them, and in his opinion they were absolutely innocent. >> he came to a different conclusion, that an intruder broke into the house and killed jonbenet. >> why don't you show me how you believe it happened? >> in a 2001 nbc news special reported by katie couric, smit could have gotten into the ramsey home, through a broken window. smit pointed to the crime scene photos and a scuff made on the wall below that could have been made by an intruder's shoe. >> stun gun marks are very specific, very specific.
like, it's not hard to distinguish what they are. >> smit believed the intruder used a stun gun to subdue jonbenet so he could carry her out of the house using another item in the photos. >> there was also a suitcase below that window. there were fibers found from that suitcase on jonbenet's pajamas. it appears as though somebody put her in that suitcase and they were going to try to lift that suitcase out of the window, but the way that window is designed you couldn't get the suitcase up in the window well and then have the person go up. >> when they couldn't get her out in the suitcase, that's when they lost control and decided to attack and abuse and potentially kill her there in the basement? >> right. >> remember smit worked for the da. when boulder police heard about his theory, most disagreed.
you initially were suspicious of the ramseys. >> yes, that is true. >> but after leaving the department and studying psychopathic personalities and part of his ph.d. dissertation, whitson said he changed his miepd. >> the behavior at the scene does not match up with the ramseys. it matches up with a psychopath. whitson now believes, as smit did, that an intruder broke in while the ramseys were out to dinner, giving him or her plenty of time to write the two and a half page ransom note. >> people say that doesn't make sense. no one with a normal mind would do that. keep in mind you're not dealing with a normal person. you're dealing with a
>> there was no dysfunction found in this family at all. they were financially successful. they had a good marriage. they loved their kids. they did normal things normal families do. >> i would disagree with you about that. i don't think dressing your 6-year-old up in makeup and a backless dress is a normal thing to do. >> i wouldn't do it, but keep in mind mrs. ramsey was ms. west virginia. she grew up pageants. so for her, this would be normal. >> he said the fibers could also be explained. >> mrs. ramsey was wearing that sweater when she tucked jonbenet that night in bed in her blanket. those fibers can then transfer onto the duct tape. >> what's harder to explain, whitson says, is all the evidence police didn't find and should have been there if a
>> the source of the cord used to tie her up was never found. the source of the duct tape was never found. the stun gun was never found. one piece of the paint brush handle was never found. there was a footprint in the storage room where jonbenet's body was found. the source for that was never found. so if the ramseys did this, particularly if patsy ramsey did this, was she logical enough to destroy alth >> the evidence seemed to tell different stories depending on who was looking at it. a showdown was coming. one that could change everything. >> coming up, the best minds on the case meet behind closed doors. their conclusions kept secret until today. >> i can tell you that they are of the mind-set that there was a cover up.
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a year and a half after jonbenet ramsey's murder, the investigation was stalled. da's investigator lou smit believed an intruder killed the murder. boulder police still believed the 6-year-old had been killed by a member of her own family. is there evidence to back up the intruder theory. >> there is more evidence that >> and to somebody inside the house? >> correct. >> they wanted the da to convene a grand jury. on june 1st, 1998, an extraordinary closed door meeting was held at an event center on the university of colorado campus. >> i'm anxious to see where the police are at this point and optimistic that they'll have a good presentation this morning. >> the contents of that police
made public until tonight. dateline obtained this detailed summary. it documents what was then an 18-month long investigation. and it reveals that after eliminating more than 100 suspects, boulder police remained focused on the ramseys. they consulted with experts who believed jonbenet had suffered prior sexual abuse. they recounted jonbenet's history of bedwetting. they pointed to the pineapple in police that the ramseys were not forthcoming about the events of that night. and the same with that enhanced 911 call. police believed burke's voice could be heard, even though his parents said he was asleep. and as for the murder, police thought it began when someone hit jonbenet on the head, perhaps with that flashlight
then strangled her with a garrote made from patsy ramsey's paint brush. the fibers on the duct tape were consistent with patsy ramsey's jacket. according to this confidential report, all the bits and pieces of evidence told a story. quote, that john and patricia ramsey are responsible in the death of jonbenet ramsey. >> we can't talk about the ta >> none of the detectives who took part in the presentation were willing to discuss it on camera, but we found someone who was in the audience who was willing to talk. forensic psychiatrist dr. steven fit, consultant on the case, and offered this summary of the police thinking. >> they were of the mind-set that -- i think most of them are anyhow -- that a terrible accident happened and then there
terrible accident. >> so under that theory, the blow to jonbenet's head came first and everything that followed from the strangulation to the ransom note was part of a cover up. >> i didn't think that anybody, myself included, believes that if you think this was an inside job that anyone intentionally went ahead and killed that child. >> so there's no premeditated murder of jonbenet here. >> no. it makes no sense. >> for that theory to be true, you have to believe in a tremendous commitment to a cover up. not just lying about it and faking this ransom note or dictating the ransom note, but also strangling your child after they're dying or while they're dying. >> and what i would argue to you is that one has to be very
conclusions about what he or she may do when dealt a certain deck of cards. i make my living off of situations where people who are otherwise upstanding solid citizens who have in a moment of poor judgment done something terrible and then gone to great lengths to cover up what it was that they did. >> after the presentation, the police commander seemed confident. >> if i were the da at this point, i would go ahead with a grand jury. >> d.a. hunter was still not ready. >> i have made the decision not to convene a grand jury. >> people who believed in the intruder theory, they believed it. on the other side, folks that thought it was somebody from inside the house, they said let's charge them.
it wasn't -- it wasn't pretty. >> the da's team decided they needed to interview the ramseys once again. they started with jonbenet's brother burke. his parents said he was asleep when he discovered jonbenet had been kidnapped. it turned out burke wasn't asleep at all. >> did you ever have a desire to go find out what was going on? >> yes. . speaks. the tape a closely guarded secret until this week. >> how do you think jonbenet was killed? >> and then another sit-down with john and patsy ramsey, but would detectives learn anything new? >> the idea is to sort of get a rise out of her and get her to say something she didn't want to say?
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but did not notice that burke was awake. >> i was afraid because i was supposed to be in bed. >> he said he never left his bedroom. he said he could hear his parents in the kitchen area. >> he was like, okay, calm down. call the police. >> you could hear that quite clearly from your room? >> did you ever have a desire to go find out what was going on? >> yes, uh-huh. i figured that i shouldn't really interrupt. >> this contradicted the detective's belief that burke can be heard in the 911 call. burke said he didn't find out what had happened to jonbenet until that night after he'd been
>> i thought jonbenet was going to be there. i thought they found her, so i came in all excited, almost relieved. and my dad told me that jonbenet was in heaven. >> he said he sobbed. >> how do you think jonbenet was killed? >> i have no idea. turn. detective tom haney was one of the sbrurs. haney had worked more than a 1,000 murder investigations. this is his first time speaking about the jonbenet ramsey case. what did you most want to know? >> well, i wanted to know everything that happened that night. some information that would help identify who was involved or what happened, you know,
there was nothing at that point. >> except a dead little girl. >> yeah, and that's the tragedy of the whole thing. you want to solve it for this baby. >> the ramsey attorneys negotiated stiff ground rules. forensic psychiatrist dr. stephen pitt helped prepare the interview team. >> it was agreed that the interviews would not take place on the grounds of the boulder police department. >> and the investigators would be done by the da's investigators, another condition. detectives on the case would not be allowed to see the interviews live. only on tape shuttled back hours later, so they had no way to suggest follow-up questions. some think the ramseys or their attorneys drove a hard bargain. >> their lawyers, they did great by them. >> the interviews took place 19 months of jonbenet's murder.
john ramsey. it was cordial. in another room, tom haney was interviewing patsy ramsey. it was anything but friendly. >> how about the theory that this was an accident? jonbenet got up or something happens. there's an accident. somebody -- >> you're going down the wrong path, buddy. >> somebody accidentally or somebody gets upset over bedwetting. that's one of the things that's been proposed. okay? >> didn't happen. if she got up in the night and ran into somebody, it was somebody there that wasn't supposed to be there. and i don't know what transpired after that, whether it was an accident, intentional, or
members in the house. >> exactly, yeah. >> haney says he tried to rattle mrs. ramsey by telling her something that wasn't true. >> if i told you right now we have trace evidence that appears to link you to the death of jonbenet, what would you tell me? >> the idea when you do that is to sort of get a rise out of her and get her to say something maybe she didn't want to say, something she didn't rehearse. >> something spontaneous as opposed to reading the script, correct. >> that's totally impossible. go retest. >> how is it impossible? >> i did not kill my child. i didn't have a thing to do with it. >> i'm talking about scientific evidence. >> i don't give a flying flip how scientific it is. go back to the damn drawing board.
john ramsey didn't do it, and we didn't have a clue of anybody who did do it. >> she doesn't crack. >> no. no, we don't get anything. >> nevertheless, the investigation moved forward. soon after the da made a surprising decision. he was convening a grand jury. >> i have terrific confidence in this grand jury. i have terrific confidence in the people that are working with me on the case. >> the grand jury started hearing evidence in the fall of 1998. they heard testimony from boulder police and from lou smit. burke ramsey also testified. according to police documents, he listened to the 911 call and although he would not admit that he was in the kitchen when his mother made the 911 call, he told the jurors that it sounded like his voice on the tape. then 13 months later the grand jury reached a decision. >> coming up, the ramseys await
and we would pray together. >> and then advances in dna testing lead to a dramatic revelation. >> we have samples from the same unknown male from two different articles of clothing. >> is this finally a break in the case? when "dateline continues." ryone should love being theirselves. say hello to cat & jack! hello, how are you? kids clothing with an imagination of its own. so good! only at target. buy one take one is back at olive garden choose one delicious entr?e at our place and another for yours starting at $12.99
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all eyes were on boulder. a grand jury had been meeting in secret, hearing all the evidence. now nearly three years after jonbenet's murder their decision was about to be announced. >> we went downstairs to our television and turned it on and watched and waited. >> john and patsy ramsey, who had moved to georgia, were back in boulder staying with their
husband michael. pam says patsy ramsey tried to lighten the mood, complaining about the prison stripes she might have to wear. >> patsy joked it'll make me look fatter than i already look. >> pam said the ramseys held tightly to their faith during those dark days. >> they would open up the bible and we would read passages and >> the boulder grand jury has completed its work and will not return. no charges have been filed. >> oh, my god. it was like hugs, hugs, hugs. thank god. praise god. from john and patsy, i felt this huge sense of relief. maybe it was over. maybe, maybe, it was over. >> but it wasn't over. the ramseys wrote a book about the case called "the death of innocence."
>> they spoke with katie couric on the "today" show in march 2000. in that interview, the ramseys discussed one of several suspects who they believe could have killed jonbenet. a man named chris wolf. >> he had been widely mentioned in the news. my rea this is the killer. >> but police have long ago cleared wolf. >> more manpower hours were spent on chris wolf than any other suspect in this case. it was ad nauseam how he was investigated and there's absolutely nothing to him. >> so when the ramseys wrote that chris wolf was a suspect, he sued them. >> his argument was that was
malicious is that the ramseys know he didn't go it because they know they did do it. >> john bennett ramsey. >> in depositions for that lawsuit, john and patsy ramsey were questioned under oath for the first time. john ramsey, as always, defended his wife. >> i know my wife. i would stake my life on the fact that she did not murder her child. she did not fake all of this this bizarre note. >> then it was patsy ramsey's turn. i did not kill my daughter. i did not write the ransom note. i don't know who did either of those things, and i'm not afraid to answer any questions from you, from them, from the police department, from anyone else for that matter. >> the judge rejected wolf's claim and in her ruling wrote, much of the physical evidence is
home and murdered their child. >> they lost everything. they lost everything. his ability to work, everything they worked for, and then patsy got sick. >> patsy ramsey's cancer had returned. she died in 2006 and was buried next to jonbenet. her pam friend says it's where she always wanted to be. >> she said i pray, i pray, that i join my daughter soon. i miss her so much. and she meant it, like she was destroyed. that was her daughter. >> the family barely had time to mourn before there was a bizarre development. >> i didn't kill jonbenet ramsey. >> an arrest in the murder of jonbenet. >> i was with jonbenet when she died. >> john mark carr, a
about drugging jonbenet, raping her, hitting her with a flashlight, but within weeks the case fell apart. police said carr made up the whole thing. >> the john mark carr fiasco, i couldn't do anything but chuckle at that. it was obvious that this guy was just looking for his 15 minutes and had arrived home from thailand. >> then about two years later the new da, mary lacy, wrote a letter exonerating john and patsy ramsey. the reason was dna. investigators had long known there was dna from an unknown male on jonbenet's underwear. the source had never been identified, meaning it could be from the killer or a result of contamination. now years after the murder
more dna from the same male source in two different places on jonbenet's pajama bottoms. >> if the contention of former district attorney mary lacy, there is no innocent explanation for that and that those dna samples have to be that of the killer. >> in that letter, da lacy wrote to the extent that we may have contributed in any way to the public perception that you might have been involved in this crime, i apologize profusely. a -- >> i'm not sure what possessed her to issue her exoneration statement. first of all, that's not what prosecutors do. we're going to do it by charging
>> that's what i thought. >> that's what i thought. she felt in her heart the ramseys had been wrongly pillarried in the press and she wanted to stop that. >> mary lacy has not responded to our requests for interview. we would have asked her about dna evidence she did not mention in her letter. according to a da investigator who worked for lacy, advanced unidentified dna samples on jonbenet and on other items at the crime scene. >> does that mean there were multiple members of this small foreign faction who all climbed in that window and deposited their dna -- >> or? >> -- or is it artifact? the store clerk touching them,
we just don't know. we don't know. >> or the killer. it was certainly possible. with no clear answers and the ramseys no longer suspects, most of the press moved on to other news. but one reporter continued to dig and what he uncovered shocked everyone. >> coming up, a dramatic development in the case kept hidden for years. >> i had learned from at least on actually an indictment. >> why you most likely never heard about it. >> it literally took everything that i had to keep that a secret. being able to pull up different articles
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the boulder grand jury has completed its work and will not return. no charges have been filed. >> when then da alex hunter made that announcement in 1999, most people assumed the grand jury had not found probable cause to indict anyone in the murder of jonbenet, but there was no way to know for sure. grand jury proceedings by law are secret, but in the years that followed reporter charlie
>> i heard from one source there had actually been an indictment. in 2013, brennan sued the da's office to get the grand jury records. >> it seemed to my like the longest of long shots. >> but 17 years after the murder, the boulder county district court issued a very unusual opinion. >> that was one of the more satisfying moments of my journalism career. >> the court released four pages in legal terms, true bills, returned by the gran the rumors had been true. the grand jury had recommended indictments for child abuse resulting in death and accessory to first-degree murder. the named parties -- john and patsy ramsey. >> it literally took everything that i had to keep that a secret.
heard the evidence and came up with that conclusion and i would agree with that conclusion. >> i thought what the hell was alex hunter trying to hide here. >> hunter declined our request for interview, but a da is not required to sign a grand jury indictment if he or she does not believe the case can be prosecuted. prosecutor bob grant who worked with hunter on the case said it all came down to the burden of proof. for an indictment, it's probable cause. but to win at trial, you need to get beyond a reasonable doubt. >> and we decided collectively that that difference was too great and i must tell you that there were people on the task force, people on the team, that felt strongly that we should have gone forward. i wasn't one of those. >> and surprisingly, jane harmor agrees.
could have gotten a conviction if they'd tried that case? >> i do not. >> so the da was right to not go forward? >> this was very much a team decision. the investigators and attorneys were all in agreement. >> that's got to be frustrating. >> very, very frustrating, but you only get one shot. >> meaning if you try someone and don't convict them, you can't try them again. >> correct. >> it's important to remember the grand jury did new dna evidence that led da mary lacy to exonerate the ramseys. there's no way to know what they would have done if they had. the release of the true bills did, however, raise an interesting question. >> the grand jurors are telling us they believe both john and patsy ramsey were accessory to someone who committed first-degree murder. i think that's an intriguing question as to who the grand jurors had in mind. >> there's been plenty of
some reports have mentioned the ramsey's son burke. no investigator we spoke with took that suggestion seriously. the current da in boulder is stan garnett. he says jonbenet's murder is still an active investigation. >> we receive several tips a month on the case. >> now 20 years later, you'll be getting even more tips. >> i have a hunch we'll get a fair number of tips this year. we'll look into everything. >> in the years following his daughter's murder, john ramsey made an unsuccessful run for the michigan state legislature. in 2001, he married a fashion designer. burke ramsey is now 29 years old. he graduated from perdue university in 2010. and his sister jonbenet would have been 26 this year. the investigation into her
decades, leaving a scar on all those who worked so passionately to solve her case but could not. the impression that's been fostered by some people is that this was sort of messy cops. >> we doggedly followed up on every lead we had and literally there was no stone left unturned. and i am proud of what we did during this investigation. >> how does this affect you personally? >> you know, i kind of don't want to go there because i don't think i matter. i think she matters. >> because ultimately it's not about you. >> correct. it's about jonbenet. >> and so one of the most notorious murders of our time remains a mystery. >> jonbenet ramsey. >> no justice for this little
television screens as a beauty pageant contestant. this is of course how most will remember her, but for those who knew her personally say that was not the real jonbenet at all. >> i could never see here in these costumes. i could see her in jeans. i could see her in pigtails. i could see her in a ponytail with a little top on. that's what i saw. that's really what i saw. >> that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. new video a car spinning out of control and in a fiery crash. what police are saying. plus +4 adults overdose in an akron home. how it sparked a search for a